Schnebly Hill Road
Sedona, Arizona (Yavapai) Technical Rating: 2-4
Last Updated: 02-19-2018
Coconino National Forest / Red Rock and Flagstaff
Schnebly Hill Road Highlights
What do you see when you imagine the state of Arizona? Maybe a mangy coyote howling next to an iconic saguaro cactus. Or possibly Doc Holliday, with his finger on the trigger, ready to send one of the McLaury brothers to the afterlife. These are common visions of Arizona and its countryside.
How about flying saucers, vortexes, and passages to other dimensions?
While it may surprise people unfamiliar with Arizona, this is exactly how many people imagine the town of Sedona and the surrounding landscape. Sedona has become a pilgrimage destination for spiritual new-agers, and the other-worldly beauty of the local terrain has certainly added to the mystery and superstition that pervades the area to this day.
Enter Schnebly Hill Road, a heavily used trail that travels east and west from Sedona through Damfino Canyon, up the side of the Mogollon Rim, past Schnebly Hill, through popular Summer camping spots, and on to Interstate 17. Much to the joy of local Jeep tourist companies, hundreds of visitors pay a premium to visit this trail on a daily basis, and for good reason - they are paying to take in the perfect view of this alien landscape, which can be found at the awe-inspiring Schnebly Hill Vista. While I can't promise that you will see an alien spaceship, or find yourself in a gateway to another dimension, I can tell you that if you visit this vista you will see a scene that is par with the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the passages of Antelope Canyon, or the famous mittens of Monument Valley. You will be hard pressed to find an area that has similar beauty, with the contrast of green foliage coalesced with tan and pink earth. The trail also offers a considerable change of scenery from a high-desert landscape displaying high cliffs to alpine countryside with piney woods and meadows. There are also several vistas and viewpoints throughout the trail.
If you're in the Sedona area, you don't want to miss out on this trail. While Schnebly Hill Road is pretty tame, there are connecting trails that are a little more challenging, and there are plenty of hiking and camping areas nearby. Just don't forget to bring some crystals in case you come across a vortex.
Technical rating: (2-4) Easy
Rutted and/or rocky road. No shelves but rocks to 9". Water crossings usually less than hub deep. Passable mud. Grades moderate, up to 15 degrees. Side hill moderate up to 15 degrees. 4WD under most conditions. No width problems, vehicle passing spots frequently available if less than two vehicles wide.
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Directions to Trailhead
From I-17 take exit 298 to Sedona and head west on SR 179. After traveling through a portion of the town of Sedona, you will see a sign on a roundabout that tells you to go forward for Schnebly Hill Road. Continue on Schnebly Hill Road for a short distance until the pavement ends. This is the beginning of the trail.
To start at the other end take I-17 to exit 320, Schnebly Hill Road, and head west.
The trail is mostly rocky, and while a 2WD with moderate clearance can normally pass with few issues, four-wheel drive is recommended. Schnebly Hill Road is heavily traveled by Jeep tour divers, ATV operators, hikers, and mountain bikes, so be situationally aware when traveling on this trail.
While the road is maintained, it can a times get weathered and present a higher level of challenge. Like all Arizona trails, this path can change dramatically with inclement weather. Be cognizant of weather forecasts and never consider taking this trail if flash floods are a possibility in the area.
2: TrailHead and Parking (0.9mi)
This is were the dirt starts. The parking lot is for those wising to hike the many trails in the area. If you do decide to park here, you'll need to have a Red Rock Pass, which you can also purchase here.
3: Schnebly Hill Vista Observation Site (1.2mi)
This is an excellent spot to stop and view Schnebly Hill Vista from bellow. You'll be lookup up at it through Damfino Canyon.
4: Ledge (1.5mi)
There is a large rock in the middle of the road that can sometimes create a good sized ledge depending on how much erosion has occurred since the last time the road was maintained. You can usually go around it to the side closes to the canyon, but it can also be a fun obstacle to climb or descend.
5: Overhang (3.0mi)
Here you get to drive under a beautifully formed rock formation that overhangs the road.
6: Hangover Trailhead Parking (3.6mi)
This parking lot is here for people wanting to hike the Hangover Trail. It also connects with the Munds Wagon Trail that goes west to the parking lot closer to Sedona, and east further up the canyon.
7: Narrow Bridge (4.1mi)
There is a narrow bridge here with a sharp U-corner on the upward side making visibility difficult. Take it slow so you don't run into someone coming the other way. The approach and departure from this bridge can at times get eroded away proving a ledge to climb up onto the bridge.
9: Schnebly Hill Vista (6.3mi)
Just at the top of the switchbacks that take you along the Mogollon Rim, you'll find a stopping point where you can take in the astonishing view.
10: FR 153A / Hotloop Intersection (6.4mi)
Continue straight on Schnebly Hill Road at this intersection. You can access the western end of Hot Loop and FR 153A at this intersection.
Dispersed camping areas can be found east of here.
11: 153A East intersection (8.0mi)
Continue straight on Schnebly Hill Road at this intersection. You can access the eastern end of FR 153A at this intersection.
12: 9498F Intersection (8.3mi)
Continue straight on Schnebly Hill Road at this intersection. This side road goes to the a small microwave radio tower connected with the larger KQST-FM Sedona radio station broadcasting tower. It's not opened to visitors.
13: 9499F Intersection (8.4mi)
Continue straight on Schnebly Hill Road at this intersection. This side road also goes to the radio towers.
14: FR 801 / Hotloop / Jack Canyon Intersection (8.5mi)
Continue straight on Schnebly Hill Road at this intersection. You can access the eastern end of Hot Loop and Jacks Canyon Road at this intersection.
15: Foxboro Lake Dam (9.8mi)
There is a beautiful meadow located here that can sometimes be filled with water. It also provides a few camping sites.
16: Large Camping Area (10.9mi)
Continue straight on Schnebly Hill Road at this intersection. You can access a large camping area here that is very popular, especially if you have a group that wants to camp together.
Schnebly Hill Road can be closed due to inclement or winter weather. Make sure to research road conditions and weather forecasts before planning a trip to this trail.
Camping and Lodging
Camping is available east of the Schnebly Hill Vista. Camping spots are first come, first served, so make sure to get there early to take advantage of beautiful meadows and forest scenes.
Questions & AnswersNo questions have been submitted.
Offroaded on 02-19-2018
Status: Seasonal Closure
Low Temperature: 35° F
High Temperature: 28° F
Checked the Coconino Forest Service website for road closures and it this was marked Opened. Tried to go on this trail, but soon as you hit the trail a road closure sign welcomes you. Talked to a Forest Service employee who was on the trial and is unfortunately is closed for the winter.
Offroaded on 06-17-2016
Low Temperature: 65° F
High Temperature: 87° F
Just a quick report about Schnebly from I-17 to the Scenic Overlook. (I was headed to 153A for camping so I didn't go all the way down to sedona).
The first 3-4 Miles seem to have been recently 'conditioned' by a road grader and presented not even the slightest bump. But once you cross the lake, and head up the hill to the long strait away, The rocky conditions worsened. Some mud rutting was present on the long strait away that has camp spots on either side.
The hill past the start of Hot Loop, to it's exit at 153A was rutted, rocky and kidney jarring. (Rocks and Mud ruts). However, there was a Hyundai driving down it so it's gotta be rated as EASY.
Offroaded on 04-14-2016
Low Temperature: 50° F
High Temperature: 78° F
Yep, the road is still here! It also looked like it has been somewhat maintained with some of the larger obstacles now having some dirt and rock filled in to make them less of an obstacle. Even some of the man-holes along the lower portions of the road were being re-done. I also hit Hot Loop and Jack's Canyon Road while on this trip.
Offroaded on 12-12-2015
Low Temperature: 30° F
High Temperature: 50° F
WOW. What a great trip. We went looking for some snow up I-17 headed towards Flagstaff and when we saw Schnebly Hill Rd we decided to take it down to Sedona and run the Broken Arrow Trail. You should check that out too! When we started off it had a good amount of snow. This is Arizona haha. It was very peaceful and the air smelled so fresh and crisp. There were some fresh tracks to follow and the views of the snow covered trees was a delight. As we started to head down on the shelf road the canyon views were amazing. There was still lots of snow at this point so I did not get any good pics. The road was narrow for having snow on it and if someone was coming up we did not want to be in the way. About half way down the snow started to go away and it was a muddy road after that. It was a great start to a great day!!!
Offroaded on 09-05-2015
I traveled to Schnebly Hill Road from I17 to Schnebly Hill Vista. The road was very muddy due to recent rains. The condition of the trail highlights the change of difficulty due to inclement weather. Make sure to plan ahead and check weather/road conditions before visiting Schnebly Hill Road.